Category Archives: Retronauts Micro

Retronauts Micro returns with a double-length episode

Well, I say “double-length,” but Bob has been stretching the definition of “Retronauts Micro” for quite a while now, so I suppose you’re used to “Micro” episodes being nearly half the length of a full episode by now.

But, anyway! Because you demanded it, Retronauts Micro has indeed made its grand and glorious return. Not that it was gone all that long. Nevertheless, to mark the occasion I’ve put together what is by far the most involved and complicated Micro I’ve ever produced. It’s a follow-up to the FM synthesis episode from a few months back, which means it centers around music. And lots of it.

This episode offers a very loose overview of the use of sampling in video games, exploring a large number of permutations and tripping a bit over the ambiguity of some of the terminology used on the tech side. Before that, though, I’ve outlined the history of sampling as a concept as well, since the concept has a significant existence outside of gaming — though of course it has to a certain degree evolved and developed alongside video games. Eh, I’m making a mess of this. Just have a listen to the episode. It’s nearly half an hour in length and incorporates dozens of examples (and samples). And, of course, that one track that EarthBound blatantly just stole from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

(Incidentally, it seems like PodcastOne’s system has a habit of overwriting custom episode art with the generic show art, so if you’re into the individual covers we create, you can snag the one above and add it yourself. Sorry for the inconvenience.)

Episode description: Retronauts Micro returns on a biweekly schedule! Jeremy kicks things off with a follow-up to last year’s look at FM synthesis in games by exploring a flip side: A brief (and at all comprehensive) history of audio sampling vis-a-vis video games.

MP3, 12.7 MB | 25:31 | Direct download
Retronauts on iTunes | Retronauts at PodcastOne

Music in this episode comes from… oh boy, where do I even begin? There’s a ton — and by no means is this list a comprehensive breakdown of all the examples I could provide.

  • Revenge of Shinobi
  • SoulBlazer
  • EarthBound
  • Psycho Soldier
  • Summer Carnival ’92: Recca
  • Pierre Schaeffer “Apostrophe”
  • The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”
  • The Beach Boys “Caroline No”
  • Pink Floyd “Money”
  • King Crimson “In the Court of the Crimson King”
  • Led Zeppelin “Stairway to Heaven”
  • David Bowie “Space Oddity”
  • Yes “Siberian Khatru”
  • King Crimson “Epitaph”
  • Genesis “Watcher of the Skies”
  • Gentle Giant “Free Hand”
  • Yellow Magic Orchestra “Computer Game”
  • Rick Wakeman “Catherine Parr”
  • Rally-X
  • King & Balloon
  • Ghostbusters (Commodore 64)
  • Wild Gunman
  • Ninja Gaiden (NES)
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
  • Otocky
  • Quadrun
  • Journey (Arcade)
  • Super Mario Kart
  • ActRaiser
  • Final Fantasy VI
  • Jet Grind Radio

Yeah, OK, I think that’s it. Whew, I’m fried. Enjoy the show, and there’ll be the usual full-length production on Monday… which also is about music. It’s like a theme or something.

17 Comments

Filed under Retronauts Micro

Podcast: Bust-A-Move, Puzzle Bobble, or whatever you wanna call it

It’s the epic conclusion to last week’s amazing episode! Eh, well, OK, maybe I’m fudging things a bit. But I did promise after last week’s talk of Bubble Bobble that I’d follow up with a piece on sequel Puzzle Bobble, and by cracky that’s exactly what we have here. Of course, most of our listeners are based in the U.S., so you probably know this series by its inexplicable localized title, “Bust-A-Move.”

Whatever you want to call it, however, it’s good stuff. A real, weapons-grade, match-three kind of affair. It has only the most tenuous connection to Bubble Bobble, of course, which means you might occasionally come across an adaptation in which developer/publisher Taito has replaced Bub and Bob with, say, the cast of the Azumanga Daioh anime.

Or, more likely, you’ll come across shameless ripoffs in which outside developers have (without shame or apology) replaced Bub and Bob with completely unrelated characters and made a fat stack of cash by stealing Taito’s work. Such as Snood, the extraordinarily ugly clone that served as my introduction to the series thanks to the magic of Macintosh shareware.

What a world.

Even if you’ve never played legitimate Bust-A-Move or Puzzle Bobble releases, odds are pretty good that you have experienced the series’ concept in some form. Colored orbs advance toward the bottom of the screen, and you have only a pivoting launcher anchored at the center-bottom of the play field with which to fling bubbles back into the screen in an attempt to clear the encroaching threat by creating color matches. A pretty mundane description, perhaps, but the game is so terribly addicting.

Having survived the Bubble Bobble episode, Jeremy mops up the franchise with a look at its most popular (or at least most imitated) branch: The iconic color-match puzzler Bust-A-Move… more sensibly known as “Puzzle Bobble.”

Libsyn (14:39 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

Much this week comes from a panoply of Puzzle Bobble sequels. Yes, I realize it’s annoyingly upbeat, but that’s what I had to work with. When life gives you lemons, create saccharine lemon desserts. Don’t worry, next week’s episode will include much better music.

This week also marks my return to creating episode cover art after nearly a year away. You’ll be happy to know Nick Daniel will still be illustrating Bob’s episodes, though, so those of you who prefer his more vivid digital compositions to my washed-out watercolors aren’t totally out of luck.

9 Comments

Filed under Retronauts Micro

Retronauts Micro #053: Donkey Kong’s Day in Court

For this week’s Retronauts Micro episode, I’ve formally visited a topic that’s popped up on the show from time to time, but which we’ve never discussed in any real depth. It’s been pretty well documented over the past decade that Donkey Kong — the arcade version, that is — was co-created by a third party, and this knowledge has led to speculation that the original coin-op game never shows up as an archived release due to this legal dispute.

While no new information has actually emerged since the Game Developers Research Institute posted its write-up of the situation about five or six years ago, with this episode I’ve attempted to put together a “what we know” synopsis that contextualizes the few hard facts that have emerged with some valuable context… including Nintendo’s reliance on outside contractors in its early video game days, and the uncertainty of copyright law as concerned game code back at the time of Donkey Kong‘s debut. Hopefully you’ll find it enlightening — and if not, well, you can look forward to next week’s episode, wherein we have an actually listenable conversation about Sonic the Hedgehog. For once.

Episode description: Enjoy this delightful yarn about the legal wrangling over the matter of Donkey Kong’s true parents. Is Shigeru Miyamoto really his dad? And who has custody over this simian tyke, anyway?

Libsyn (14:42 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud)

Remember that this rad show is made possible by a communal cash infusion through Patreon! (We’re not greedy, we’re just game journalists who can’t afford to create a high-grade cross-country podcast out of pocket.)

5 Comments

Filed under Retronauts Micro

This week: Ninja Five-O. Next week: Samurai CHiPs

micro 033 cover

This video took much longer to put together than I had intended or hoped, so I’m far too tired to write about it. I will let this episode speak for itself:

And you old-fashioned types can do the usual audio-only thing, I guess:

Download Links

Libsyn (11:09 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes! Support us on Patreon!)

Episode Description

Jeremy dives into Game Boy Advance classic (and overpriced rarity) Ninja Five-O, a game that probably should never have existed. But isn’t it nice that it does?

2 Comments

Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Micro

The latest Retronauts Micro arrives in two delicious flavors…

…audio flavor, and video flavor.

micro 27 cover

Q*Bert is such an abstract, visual game, it would seem sort of ridiculous not to include images while discussing it, right? So, for this week’s Retronauts Micro, I’ve upgraded the mini-podcast to a mini-video as well.

Though of course, the audio version remains for you purists in the audience.

Moving forward, I hope to produce video versions of all my Micro episodes. Bob seems to have a good thing going with his mixtape episodes, so I imagine those will remain audio-only, but my own productions tend to be less inspired. Thus, I’m fancying them up with visuals. If I have time (ha!) I’d also like to go back and rework my older Micro episodes into videos as well.

Download Links

Libsyn (8:34 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode Description

Journey back in time to 1982 and the sassiest mascot character ever to cuss up an arcade: Q*Bert. And if this episode seems a bit brief, well, be sure to check out the video version on retronauts.com or usgamer.net!

The music in this week’s audio version comes from Q*Bert 3. It’s not very good music—it’s actually kind of annoying!—but what can ya do?

As a reminder, the Retronauts project is made possible through Patreon! I also have posted some of the original podcast cover illustrations up for sale, if you’d like to give someone the gift of slightly amateurish video game watercolors this holiday.

1 Comment

Filed under Retronauts Micro

Retronauts double-header

micro 21 cover

Hey! I forgot to post last week’s episode here! Oh well. Now you get two at once.

First: The latest episode, a Micro look at Namco’s Rolling Thunder. You kids seem to like Bob’s music-heavy episodes, and as it happens this game has rad-as-hell music. So rock on out to this one. I wonder if all the great music in this game informed Sega’s decision to make the bad guys in Space Channel 5 basically look like the Maskers in Rolling Thunder…?

Download Links

Libsyn (17:36 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode Description

Jeremy looks back on Namco’s clasic arcade action game Rolling Thunder, the quintessential old-school take on “spy action” before Metal Gear redefined the genre to mean “stealth.”

EPSON MFP image

Aaaand speaking of Metal Gear, here’s last week’s episode, featuring Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero on Hideo Kojima’s long-running stealth franchise. See what I did there?

Download Links

Libsyn (1:57:36 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode description

As an era ends with the release of Metal Gear Solid V, Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero join us to wax rhapsodic about the unique history on gaming’s longest-running saga. No haters or Hayters allowed!As an era ends with the release of Metal Gear Solid V, Shane Bettenhausen and Jose Otero join us to wax rhapsodic about the unique history on gaming’s longest-running saga. No haters or Hayters allowed!

Enjoy, and remember that you can listen to next week’s episode early by supporting us on Patreon. But it’s cool, you can also just wait a few days and I’m sure you’ll enjoy the episode all the same.

12 Comments

Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Micro

The real knowledge was Treasure

micro 17 cover

 

Wow! This episode’s a day late. It’s getting to be a cool trend. Tardiness is gonna be all the rage in 2016, and we’re leading the way.

This episode of Retronauts Micro focuses on a company whose games I’ve never really gotten into but for whom I have tremendous respect: Treasure. The studio has been pretty quiet of late, working on Capcom’s Gaist Crusher series and presumably working with M2 on the 3D Ages version of Gunstar Heroes… but hopefully they have something fresh up their sleeves. They’re too talented to languish in obscurity, especially since the kind of challenge and mechanical complexity they deal in has become quite popular among a certain set of gamers.

Download Links

Libsyn (12:38 | MP3 Download | SoundCloud )

Episode Description

Jeremy takes a look at one of gaming’s great studios, whose work seems to have been largely forgotten in this day and age. Will Treasure rise again, or will their two-decade collection of brilliance stand as their legacy?

Music this time around comes from Hitoshi Sakimoto’s Gradius V soundtrack — not really typical treasure fare, but just a fantastic piece of music all around.

5 Comments

Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Micro

Retronauts Micro 11 Gets Virtual

EPSON MFP image

Last week, we talked about the Game Boy line’s would-be competitors from the late ’90s. This week: A look at its erstwhile replacement, Virtual Boy. Since people actually bought and liked Neo Geo Pocket (and to a lesser degree WonderSwan), last week’s conversation worked as a full episode. Virtual Boy, however… that’s a 10-minute monologue topic if ever there was one.

Description for this episode:

Following our look at Game Boy’s competitors in the late ’90s, Jeremy explores the system’s would-be successor: Nintendo’s disastrous Virtual Boy. Aw, but it wasn’t all bad.

Listen or download here:

Libsyn (1:26:47 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS | Support the show on Patreon

Next week, we’ll be back with another podcast. It’s kind of what we do.

5 Comments

Filed under Retronauts Micro

Retronauts Micro 009, the Kuros for What Ails Ya

EPSON MFP image

Greetings and welcome to a thrilling new week… oh, wait, it’s Wednesday. Never mind.

Sorry for the delay on this episode, but the first version I recorded for this one didn’t turn out very well — my audio setup hadn’t been fine-tuned yet to my new office. So I made the executive decision to delay it and re-record it with a proper setup. Hopefully it was worth the wait.

Just kidding, it wasn’t worth the wait. This is a Micro episode, so no one’s really champing at the bit for it. But this is pretty much the definitive sort of Micro episode — it follows up on last week’s full episode to look with a bit more depth at a game we brushed on in passing, but which deserves more attention. Wizards & Warriors isn’t one of Rare’s most beloved classics, but the games hold a sort of unique place in the company’s history: They were among their first attempts to get their bearings on both NES and Game Boy, where they stood as pioneers leading other Western developers onto the promised land of Nintendo licensing. That makes these games pretty noteworthy, in my book.

This week’s show description:

After last week’s in-depth blowout on Rare, Jeremy pauses to look briefly at one of the company’s most significant yet underappreciated creations: 1987’s Wizards & Warriors for NES.

Listen to or grab it here:

Libsyn (1:49:23 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS | Support the show on Patreon

Next week, we’ll be back with a standard full-length episode. Probably on time, too!

13 Comments

Filed under Retronauts Micro

This week in Retronauts, you shall be as gods

EPSON MFP image

Hi everyone! It’s a little something different this week for Retronauts Micro.

A few years ago, I revisited a game I deeply hated, Xenogears, with the intention of giving it a second chance. After pouring a heck of a lot of time into it, I came away not precisely changed, but with a deeper understanding of my issues with the game along with a deeper appreciation of what director Tetsuya Takahashi and his team were trying to accomplish with it. I wrote up my findings in a lengthy essay for my side project GameSpite Journal; rather than retread the same territory, I’ve adapted that old essay here into a condensed podcast script.

Music this episode, of course, comes from Xenogears, because what kind of idiot would create a podcast about Xenogears and not use Xenogears music?

Libsyn (9:30 | MP3 Download) | SoundCloud | Subscribe on iTunes | RSS feed

Jeremy explores his uncomfortable mixture of admiration for and frustration with Squaresoft’s almost-classic RPG for PlayStation, Xenogears. It’s a complicated episode for a complicated game.

21 Comments

Filed under Retronauts, Retronauts Micro